How to Transition From Data to Product by Google PM

To be an efficient Product Manager, a thorough understanding of the data dynamics and product movement is necessary. Experience as a Data Analyst always adds an edge over others to become a coherent and successful Product Manager.

In this video lecture, Yana Yushkina walks us through various methods that constitute the transition of Data into Product.

Yana Yushkina

Yana Yushkina Google PM

Being an excellent Data Analyst, Yana Yushkina started out her journey as a research intern at The Economic Strategy Institute. Gaining experience as a strategic Data Analyst, she soon translated her career path into Product Management. Her incessant passion for data-driven development, stories and, products has made her into one of the most effective PMs for Google since 2017.

According to Yana, the PM is responsible for the overall user experience. A PM won’t build a product or hire an engineer, but is typically responsible for everything an end-user sees or interacts with.

Characteristics of a Great PM

Before beginning to read into the topic, Yana emphasizes the characteristics that make a Product Manager exceptional:

1) Analytical ability and critical thinking

The analytical ability relies on the ability to distill a big problem space into smaller, distinct problem sets and finding solutions for each.

Critical thinking underlines the ability to build a vision for a product and designing a road-map to bring the product into reality.

2) Passion and curiosity for tech

A prominent PM has a voracious interest in learning new technology in the market. Additionally, they have the caliber to ask intelligent questions to tech experts, at the right time. They will also have the ability to explain complex technology in simple terms to the team members.

Woman with VR headset

3) An overdeveloped sense of responsibility

A good PM is responsible for everything a project endures. Typically, nothing is not their problem. Everything is their problem. They should ensure to address each of the issues with the utmost integrity.

Having the vision to anticipate issues in the future and building teams to resolve them, also constitute one of the key necessities of a great PM.

4) Communication – tell a good story

The ability to communicate with the cross-functional teams to get the work done is an important talent. Communicating with a good story, habitually enhances the process of communication. Having empathy towards everything is the deal-breaker. Ultimately, PMs are the quintessential networkers in a company.

Two people talking

Data-Driven Design

Yana says that a PM with critical thinking, blended with empathy is always a crucial resource among other peer workers. This is because they will essentially guide the process of designing and improving the products, based on quantitative measurements like A/B testing and north-star metrics, which enhances the process of Project Management.

Such PMs are said to have superpowers, like:

1) Knowing what to measure and how?

They usually know a great deal in working with metrics.

  • Goals→ metrics – they can measure what the right metric is
  • Proxies – Data analytics help in deciding what the right metric is through various proxies
  • When to slice and when to stop
  • Which dashboard to request
  • Noise vs signal

2) Self sufficiency

PMs with analytical thinking are self-sufficient. They are equipped with the thoughts of Custom queries, Dashboards & A/B tests.

3) Persuade with data

Analyzing summaries and having being familiar with data visualization enables a PM to draw better conclusions with more accurate results.

Data visualized

Steps to Becoming a PM if You Are a Data Analyst Now

Yana walks us through an exercise to evaluate and become a PM from a Data Analyst. Below are the briefed-out steps to reach the ultimate goal of becoming a PM:

1) Validate: is this what you want?

– Shadow a PM at your company

– Volunteer to help out a PM

– Volunteer to help a PM-less team

2) Apprenticeship: Learn by doing

– Build something yourself

– Larger scoped project with proximate PM or engineer team

– Associate PM roles

3) Fill in the gaps

– Business, design skills or technical abilities

4) Preparing for interviews

Use online materials and books to acquire the management skills to transcend into becoming a PM.

Product Manager vs Data Analyst

According to Yana, the changes one sees after becoming a PM from a Data Analyst are:

  • Email & meetings will be inundated in the routine, instead of spreadsheets & SQL
  • Errors are usually strategic and reveal themselves much later.
  • Favors will be more asked out now, than previously, in which case, favors were rather offered.
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